Substitute teachers in Crookston Public Schools will be paid more

Mike Christopherson

In a more typical school year, if a teacher felt “kind of crummy,” he or she might be tempted to “tough it out” and try to make it through the day teaching in the classroom, Superintendent Jeremy Olson told the Crookston School Board this week.

But the 2020-21 school year promises to be anything but typical. Any teachers who don’t feel well and if any of their symptoms might have anything to do with the COVID-19 virus, they are going to be strongly encouraged to stay away from school, the superintendent said.

“We used to call it soldiering on to get through the day,” he said. “But we just can’t take those kinds of risks anymore.”

Which means, if more teachers are using more sick days, the public schools are in all likelihood going to lean on its fleet of substitute teachers perhaps more than ever before, and Olson isn’t convinced the school district has enough to lean on going into the school year.

“This school year, subs are going to be so critical,” he said.

So, as part of an effort to “remove all barriers to why you wouldn’t want to (substitute teach) in Crookston,” the school board acted on Olson’s recommendation and approved a $15 per day increase in substitute teacher pay, going from $120 for a full day’s work to $135.

The move makes the Crookston sub pay rate more competitive with area school district’s, Olson said, noting that, at the $120-per-day rate, the district was sort of in the middle of the pack, but possibly slightly below average. 

The $135-per-day rate is the same as what’s paid in the East Grand Forks School District. As for other districts in the region, Red Lake County Central, Red Lake Falls and Win-E-Mac each pay $110 a day, Thief River Falls pays $115, Climax-Shelly pays $125, and Fisher pays $130.

Subs working less than a half-day will be paid $40, and for a half-day’s work they’ll make $67.50.

As part of an effort to recruit more substitute teachers, the district on Tuesday, Aug. 25 will host an information session in the Crookston High School auditorium, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Required qualifications include a four-year college degree and a substitute teaching license, which Olson said people can apply for at the Aug. 25 session.

The school board also gave Olson the green light to potentially create a long-term substitute teacher position for the coming school year; the person hired would essentially float from day to day to wherever his or her services are needed as assigned. Olson said federal CARES Act funds would cover the cost.